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Sat Feb 13, 2021, 01:47 PM

the war on higher ed in Iowa continues; or, pray for us!

I work at a public university in Iowa. I would thus be under direct threat should any of these bills become law.

The bills, themselves, don't actually bother me very much. The bill to abolish tenure comes up pretty much every year. The state's business community is strongly opposed to it, and everyone saw what happened to the University of Wisconsin when that state weakened its tenure policies. So although I'm keeping an eye on it, I don't think it will become law.

Moreover, the proposed law that would prohibit non-disclosure agreements on research grants would get tossed by the courts almost immediately. It would violate HIPAA policies. The other bills would also run up against contradictory federal law, or even the Constitution itself.

What bothers me is the grotesque ignorance and vindictiveness that drives this effort. The state legislature here seems to think we're a bunch of liberal elitists who want to tear down western civilization. They genuinely don't know what we do, how research grants work, or what we provide to the state, if not the entire nation. I suppose this shouldn't surprise me, given the flagrant stupidity of our governor, who just lifted pretty much all COVID restrictions. (Two major highways - I-80 and I-35 - intersect in the middle of the state. A lot of shipping passes through the state. Think of all the truck drivers who will risk their lives just driving from point A to point B.)

I get really hacked off when a politician dismisses anything I say with "But you don't live in the real world." As if we professors don't put our pants on one leg at a time. We come from the same neighborhoods as anyone else. (My father worked in a dairy factory when I was born.) We work our asses off, just like everyone else. Yes, there's a specialized language that seeps into our daily conversation and we sometimes talk shop when in groups, just like everyone else. And yes, some of us are jerks. But you know what? That's equally true of police officers, dental hygienists, farmers, lawyers, sales representatives, auto mechanics, hair stylists, truck drivers, airline pilots, and anyone else in a field that requires training and dedication. But when it comes to academics, the rules just don't seem to apply in their eyes.

I honestly don't know what to do. I love my institution; my grandfather taught here, I did my undergrad here, and I've been here as faculty for more than 20 years. You know how they say New York is a great place to visit, but you'd never want to live there? Iowa City is a great place to live, but you'd never want to visit. But I am nevertheless feeling the urge to go somewhere else. Somewhere that values higher education.


https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltnietzel/2021/02/11/want-a-state-legislature-that-likes-to-meddle-with-higher-education-move-to-iowa/?sh=946c1db5afd9

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Reply the war on higher ed in Iowa continues; or, pray for us! (Original post)
cab67 Feb 2021 OP
Wounded Bear Feb 2021 #1
cab67 Feb 2021 #2
drmeow Feb 2021 #3
rurallib Feb 2021 #4

Response to cab67 (Original post)

Sat Feb 13, 2021, 01:56 PM

1. Are they attacking the football program, though? We all know that's what matters most...

Just in case somebody thought I was being serious.

The anti-intellectualism runs deep in the good ole US of A.

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Response to Wounded Bear (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 13, 2021, 02:02 PM

2. I've tried explaining college sports when travelling abroad.

They kinda get it in other English-speaking countries, but the rest of the world doesn't understand why alumni don't push for their alma maters to win more Nobel Prizes or National Book Awards. They really can't grasp this.


That being said - UI just announced cancellations of some sports programs because of the budget. Men's gymnastics, men's and women's swimming, and one or two other. Not the money-makers.

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Response to cab67 (Original post)

Sat Feb 13, 2021, 02:45 PM

3. Publicly funded/public university education was fine

after WWII and during the 50's when it was mostly white men getting that education. But when people getting an education started objecting to the war machine and started introducing different viewpoints then it became a waste of state money.

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Response to cab67 (Original post)

Sat Feb 13, 2021, 05:13 PM

4. Iowans outside of the few major cities have harbored a hate for higher education in Iowa since

the Vietnam War. Finally after some 50+ years they have the kinds of votes to take revenge and they will not miss their chance.

Of course it is not ISU or UNI they hate. It is Iowa and Iowa City. Unfortunately for the rural legislators they sometimes have to wing their beloved ISU in order to get a good shot at Iowa.

Add the designating of the university system to the naked attempt to undermine Iowa's public K-12 system with vouchers for private (often religious) education and you have the makings of an education system in decline and a group pf legislators delighting in that decline.

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